Etana in Eden New Light on the Mesopotamian and Biblical Tales in Their Semitic Context

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Abraham Winitzer



This paper proposes an unnoted major link, between the Mesopotamian Etana legend and Genesis’s Garden of Eden story by pointing to parallels between the two stories, apparent at different levels, from the structural to the lexical. Cumulatively these point to a dependence by the Eden story on Etana, though it is argued that the appreciation of these matters in tandem, as put forth in this study, serves mutually beneficial purposes. The identification of vestiges of Etana in Eden advances our understanding of Etana no less than of Eden. Most significantly, perhaps, the reciprocal consideration of Etana and Eden sheds light on the manner by which the ancients’ reflection on language, respectively Akkadian and Hebrew, provided a key ingredient in the creation of both the Mesopotamian and Biblical tales—in a manner quintessential to the Semitic world.

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